As you progress through life, you learn to continue questioning things that need to be questioned and to just accept certain life truths that don’t require debate. Certain things just go together and it’s best not to try to analyze it too much. I’m not sure why but little girls love horses. They just do. As a father of a beautiful, little four year old girl I don’t try to understand why Anna loves horses, I just encourage her to keep loving them and learning about them.
In the 36 years I’ve lived in the Philadelphia area, I must have heard about the Devon Horse Show 100+ times but I never bothered to attend. I’ve talked about attending and even looked into it a couple years with Margie, but we never made it a priority. This year, it was just meant to be. I resigned from my previous employer to take a new job with a locally based firm and had some time off before my first day. One day, I told Anna that she could do anything that she wanted to do with me. She said that she wanted to go to the library, go shopping, make pottery and go to the pool. Sounded like a great plan to me so we set out early to go shopping and to the library where Anna picked out a book on pottery, different cultures and horses. I did some research and found a place called Color Me Mine in Wayne that lets you pick out a piece of pottery and paint it. Most days, I would have taken 202 North to get to Wayne but for some reason that day, we decided to take Lancaster Pike. As we passed through Malvern and approached Devon, we saw a sign for the Devon Horse Show and I noticed that it was still running through the weekend. Hmmm...
When we walked into Color Me Mine, I told Anna she could pick out anything she wanted and that we’d work together to paint it. First, she wanted to read her book on pottery and horses so we sat at a table and read together. Not surprisingly, she picked a beautiful horse as her piece of pottery to paint. As we finished up painting, I whispered in her ear that I had a special idea.. instead of going to the pool, why don’t we go to a “horse party”. The twinkle in her eye let me know that the answer was a definite yes!
We parked in a nearby office and made our way over to the show. As we drew closer, we saw more and more horses and the skip in Anna’s step picked up. We started out by first walking around the stables and watched two horses get a bath. Then, we made our way over to the concessions and found a table in the shade to sit and enjoy lunch together. We didn’t necessarily plan it out this way, but Anna was dressed for the occasion in a cute Summer dress and braids in her hair. She strutted around the fairgrounds as if she’d been there several times before.
Some children would have been overwhelmed by the experience of all the people and horses but Anna seemed to feel right at home. We stopped and bought her a stuffed animal horse as a souvenir and then picked up some ice cream. From there, we went over to the grandstand and sat there eating our ice cream and watching several horses perform. I asked Anna how she liked watching the horses and she asked when they would start racing instead of jumping over bridges! I explained that this show is different than the Kentucky Derby we had watched on TV a few weeks back. Anna was starting to tire so I told her she could pick a few rides to go on before we left. She rode the merry go round and some other rides and then we walked back through the fair grounds and saw dozens more horses.
As we exited, she grabbed my hand, squeezed it and skipped all the way back to the car. There is just something special about horses and little girls. I don’t know why the stars aligned for this to be the year that I finally experienced the Devon Horse Show but I’m so thankful they did. Sharing my first Devon Horse Show experience with Anna and how it spontaneously came about is one of those moments that will stay with me always.